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NAB poring over millions of accounts to plug money laundering leaks

“It is a case of doing it well, trying to do it once, closing the gap at the front so when you bring new customers in you’re not repeating the same issues.”

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Mr Simmonds criticised NAB for treating anti-money laundering compliance as a “data project” and said no one would “feel sorry” for the bank “with the profits you make” in calling for further details to be provided regarding the project.

“If you don’t know your customers, you can’t flag them as a risk, you’re missing suspicious transactions facilitating child abuse and other criminal activity,” he said.

Mr McEwan interjected, claiming NAB was taking the project very seriously and that a number of senior employees were tasked with managing it. “We have a program of work called Apollo,” he said. “I just want to record, we are absolutely taking this seriously. We know our obligations. And we are endeavouring to fulfil them.

“Let’s be quite clear, this battleground is the battleground every bank is having to fight on.

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“We have to make sure that every customer is known, every transaction is known through every product through every jurisdiction. We are working incredibly hard to get some of the data sources of customer information back up to date. That’s the backlog.”

This masthead has also previously revealed the major banks, including the Commonwealth Bank and NAB, are reliant on labour hire firms to fill permanent positions with temporary contractors across its financial crime department. Mr McEwan acknowledged there was a war for talent as AML compliance becomes more important.

“This is however an area that Australia and globally are finding difficulty getting qualified people,” he said. “Digital jobs, data jobs, technology jobs, are difficult.”

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